Kamayan dinner feast!

I had a wonderful, FANTASTIC time this week at a Filipino kamayan (to eat with hands) dinner feast organized by Rey Pan over at his awesome Meetup Group.

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What a spread! Happiness on banana leaves, shared with an amazing group of people – all while Toronto was covered with snow.

Check out this sweet menu, prepared by Diona Joyce and her wonderful team at Kanto (whose retrofitted shipping container storefront was one block away from our hosts for the evening at Pact Bar):

Ulam | Mains

Lechon Kawali (Crisp-Fried Pork Belly)
Grilled Pork Skewers
Chicken Inasal (Grilled Citrus, Vinegar and Annatto Seed Marinated Chicken)
Beef Tapa (Beef Marinated in Soy Sauce and Calamansi)
Bangus Belly (Garlicky Cured Milkfish Belly)

Sides

Garlic Fried Rice
Atchara (Papaya Slaw)
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Mango Slaw
Chicharon and Kropek

Dessert

Turon (Caramelized Banana Spring Rolls)

I wish I had a photo that showed how crazy I was grinning ear to ear.

I was also incredibly glad to have made it out for the evening. There’s been a lot going on – including preparing for a move (!) – that the past few weeks, much like the last six months, have felt like such an unstable whirlwind of activity. I definitely feel like I’ve had to keep pace with this business of growing up, which sometimes just isn’t the easiest thing to do.

We talked to some guys who recommended a number of South Korean, Norwegian and good ol’ American thriller movies, and I chatted quite a bit with someone about the history of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, spurred by the tomatoes I was shovelling into my mouth. With a Newfoundlander new to Filipino food and a recent college grad from Winnipeg I talked char sui and the difference between Chinese vs Filipino-style pork belly – comparing marinade, parboiling and cooking methods – while munching on delectably crisp nuggets of lechon kawali.

I love talking about food, and eating it with gusto. (Incidentally, gusto translates to ‘want’ in Tagalog.) And I loved, LOVED being able to stand in a room full of people I’ve just met, enjoying the food that gives me comfort standing next to the person I feel most myself with, scooping delicious morsels of fragrant garlic rice topped with everything from silky milkfish belly to zesty mango salsa up kamayan-style.

Lesson of the week: When life throws you lemons, take the damn fruit and find an opportunity to work it into something you love.

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